Cary Blake

Associate Editor,
Western Farm Press

Cary Blake, associate editor with Western Farm Press, has 32 years experience as an agricultural journalist. Blake covered Midwest agriculture for 25 years on a statewide farm radio network and through television stories that blanketed the nation.
Blake travelled West in 2003. Today he reports on production agriculture in Arizona and California. He also covers New Mexico and West Texas agriculture for Southwest Farm Press.
Blake is a native Mississippian, graduate of Mississippi State University, and a former Christmas tree grower.

Food safety panel: LGMA guidelines scientifically sound

A panel of food safety experts conducting an independent review of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement’s food safety Guidelines basically calls the current production practices scientifically sound, current, and in some cases more stringent than existing federal guidelines.

Photos: A better way to irrigate cotton in Arizona?

Kevin Bronson and Kelly Thorp of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Maricop, Ariz. are in the third year of field tests to determine if the there is a better way to irrigate cotton in the Grand Canyon State other than traditionally flooding fields.

Two separate field studies at the Maricopa Agricultural Center are testing two methods: an overhead sprinkler system guided by precision agriculture tools to place water only where needed and only how much is really needed in the field; and buried drip - a.k.a. subsurface drip irrigation.

ARS targets next generation Arizona cotton irrigation

Water for agricultural irrigation is the most precious natural resource in western agriculture. Due to ever tightening water supplies, more attention is being focused on shifting from flood-irrigated cotton to more efficient systems which could include sprinkler and buried drip systems.

This could happen sooner rather than later.

NASS predicts 2 billion-pound California almond crop

The California almond industry might rejoin its ‘2 Billion Pound Club.’

The National Agricultural Statistics Service’s (NASS) initial subjective forecast for 2016 California almond production is pegged at 2.0 billion pounds; about 5.8 percent above last year's 1.89 billion pound crop.

NASS believes almond yields this year could average 2,200 pounds per acre; a 4.7 percent increase from last year’s 2,120 pounds per acre.

The government agency’s forecasted 2016 bearing acreage is 900,000.

Pecan growers give marketing order thumbs up

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) says pecan growers have voted to establish a federal marketing order for pecans grown in 15 states.

Seventy-seven percent 77 percent of the producers voting in a referendum - representing 88 percent of the volume - supported the marketing order. Voting was conducted March 9-30, 2016.

Arizona alfalfa industry gains acreage, tonnage, respect 1

While California alfalfa acreage has declined in recent years largely tied to drought, the forage crop in Arizona is gaining in acreage, yield, and respect.

Barry Tickes pegs Arizona alfalfa acreage at 300,000 acres. Add another 35,000 acres in other hays to bring the state’s total forage production acreage to about 335,000 acres.

Sean Doherty credits teamwork for rice farm’s success

Rice grower Sean Doherty believes the success of his northern California farm is based on a “we” attitude, rather than “I” – calling the operation a successful team effort including his wife Melissa and their dedicated, hard-working employees.

“We have a great crew,” Sean says. “They are really good people, work hard, and I’m thankful for them. They make the reason for working hard easy.”

California rice’s priorities - water, regulations, politics 1

The California rice industry is pleased as punch with the rainfall this past fall, winter, and the ‘Miracle March’ in the Sacramento Valley where the majority of the state’s crop is grown.

The rice industry is glowing over the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s decision this spring to provide a 100 percent surface water allocation for agriculture to the area.

California grape acreage falls 10,000 acres to 918,000 1
According to a government survey of California grape growers, 2015 total crop acreage fell 10,000 acres from the previous year - about a 1 percent reduction.
Hopes widespread for ‘normal’ California pistachio crop 1

For the California pistachio industry, 2015 will long remembered as the year Mother Nature delivered an estimated 42 percent smaller yields, largely due to lower winter chilling hours which resulted in an uneven bloom and prolonged drought.

Yet despite last year’s crop disaster, several California pistachio growers and leaders are bullish that 2016 could deliver a much needed normal crop.

TPP would increase demand, consumption for walnuts

The California walnut industry supports the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement which would reduce or eliminate trade barriers in the Asia Pacific region.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement between the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, tariffs on walnuts would be reduced or eliminated in Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and New Zealand.

Constant evolution keeps Calif. wine industry on its toes

The mantras to succeed, excel, and prosper continue to spark the $3 billion California wine industry as a world leader in production and sales, amid the challenges of potentially more frequent and severe drought patterns, plus increasing foreign and domestic product competition.

A stabilizing factor for the California industry is that baseline wine grape production appears cemented in the four-million-ton-plus range moving forward, barring a major weather malady, with visions of a 4.5 million ton crop on the horizon.

$800,000 in specialty crop grants available in Arizona

More than $800,000 is available to help educate, promote, and research specialty crops in Arizona.

Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops. The Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA) uses money from the federal Specialty Crop Block grants to improve Arizona’s industry.

“We have a rich combination of farmers and producers in our state, and many people don’t realize it,” said Mark Killian, ADA director.

Fernandez tapped Calif. Wheat Commission director

The California Wheat Commission (CWC) has hired Deanna Fernandez as its executive director, effective March 22, 2016.

Fernandez comes to the CWC from the Raisin Administrative Committee in Fresno, Calif. where she served as its international program director.

According to the CWC, Fernandez has good leadership skills with strategic and analytical thinking plus innovative skills to help plan, develop, and implement successful programs for wheat export markets.

El Niño heads back to California this week after hiatus 1

El Niño storms could blanket central and northern California this week following a mostly February dry spell, according to meteorologist Terry Snow of the Weather Advisory Service.

“El Niño rain has a good chance to return and not be the dud it has been for the month of February,” Snow says in his Feb. 27 report.

The return to wet weather could start Thursday, March 3 with a dose of light rain in central and northern California.

This should be followed by a series of wet storms expected to start Sunday, March 6.  

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